Wednesday, July 07, 2004

14. Dick

Holy fucking SHIT. So much has happened in the last 24 hours that I don't see how I can cover it all here.

First things first, just so I don't forget: The session with Dr. T went well. It took me pretty much the entire 50 minutes just to recap everything that had happened since the last time I saw him, and as usual he listened without saying much at all while I rambled on about Bill and Janice and Peter and all the other characters in my humdrum existence. When I got to the part about Batman and the Joker, he looked up from his notepad and then started to press me for more details. I assumed at first that he must thought I'd completely lost it and was going delusional with invisible playmates, but I'm not so sure. He probably saw the same coverage on TV as everybody else; there's still a lot of speculation that the whole thing is a publicity stunt or a hoax, even now, but everybody wants to believe in heroes. And celebrities. Maybe he's just as starstruck as everybody else. We made another appointment for next week and I headed home.

I've stepped up my exercise regimen lately, probably as a way to deal with all the anxiety I've been feeling lately. In addition to working out at home, I've been jogging a lot and taking longer and longer bike rides. My schedule was a little screwed up because of the afternoon meeting with Dr. T, so I decided to do a night ride instead. A LATE night ride this time--I didn't leave the apartment until about 11 p.m. Seemed like a golden opportunity to break in the new cycling outfit I bought last week: green biking shorts and gloves, and a stretchy red top. (Okay, I admit it: I think I had the whole comic-book crimefighter model in mind when I picked out this little ensemble. Doesn't everybody who wears this stuff?) I've also got a black leather fanny pack stocked with a flashlight and pepper spray, since I like the night rides from time to time. I knew it was a little cold out, so I wore my fall windbreaker, too--the bright yellow one, so I'd be seen more easily on the road.

I left my place, wove my way through a few side streets, and headed to the park. It's closed after 10, but I've never let that stop me before. It's always so quiet and peaceful in there after dark that the deeper in you go, the more you feel like you're in the wilderness. There's usually only one or two other cyclists or a few pedestrians at most at that hour--sometimes a few more on a beautiful night with a full moon, but not on a chilly evening like this one.

I got about as far as the bird sanctuary and stopped for a second to rest and have a sip of water. That was when I started hearing something--twigs snapping, something running in the woods nearby. I figured it was an animal of some kind at first, but then I heard some muffled but distinctly human sounds. I couldn't make them out, but it was clearly something aggressive.

A smarter person than I would have hightailed it out of there, and a more conscientious one would have found a park phone and called 911. (A wealthier person than I would have just dialed his cell phone.) But no. Something -- a death wish, perhaps? -- compelled me to find the nearest trail and ride directly toward the ruckus to investigate.

Took me a while to locate its source, and when I finally did, I propped the bike against a tree and walked over to peer through the brush. It was pretty dark, despite a little illumination from the moon and a streetlight far in the distance, but I didn't dare use my flashlight. When my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I almost couldn't believe what I thought I saw: Batman was there, along with another guy in a mask and costume. Batman was tied to the trunk of a large tree, his wrists bound over his head and his ankles pulled as far apart as they would go, each tied snugly to the trunk. There was more rope wrapped securely around his chest, and he was struggling to try and break free. It looked like the other guy was coming toward him with a weapon of some sort.